PHOTO: Candace Roberts embraces FrankTown executive director Chris Barnhill after receiving her new vehicle on Thursday in Franklin. / Photo by Alexander Willis
BY ALEXANDER WILLIS
Candace Roberts, single mother of three, got to take home a new car Wednesday courtesy of the non-profit organization FrankTown Open Hearts and Franklin Automotive.
“It’s going to make such a difference,” Roberts said. “Now my children don’t have to catch rides to and from practice, or walk – we’ve been doing a whole lot of walking lately. I have three kids that are extremely active in sports, and so it’s just such a blessing.”
Roberts works the night shift at a Red Lobster, and has had to rely on ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft to get to and from work. The costs of daily Uber and Lyft trips, plus the cost of raising three kids, was starting to add up.
Roberts said she was saving money to fix an old vehicle, and so the gift of a new car “came right on time.”
This will be the 23rd vehicle given away to a single mother since the initiative began in March of 2016. Franktown is planning on giving away two more vehicles by the end of September.
Franktown Open Hearts is non-profit youth outreach organization that provides classes and courses on everything from computer technology to auto repair.
“We saw a huge need in the community, because we have a lot of single moms,” said office manager Brittany Tolbert. Tolbert said one of the larger issues facing single moms is not having reliable transportation.
The vehicles FrankTown donates to single mothers are actually fixed, repaired or tuned up by their own students in their automotive training program.
“We’re very much a hands-on program, we want to teach kids and give them the skills to be able to do things on their own,” Tolbert said. “Our automotive program… our kids work on the cars. They learn how to fix it, and are training if they ever wanted to go into the industry. And then we’re also blessing a family in the community with the ability to get around.”
Executive director at FrankTown, Chris Barnhill, said the car gift initiative “hasn’t cost [FrankTown] a penny,” and that it has been completely “self-sustaining.” Barnhill said FrankTown is able to purchase auto-parts at a reduced price, at cost, or receives them as donations, helping the program continue.
Barnhill is also a huge proponent of kids trying to learn new skills.
“We’ve exposed them to the woodwork, and the welding, and the HVAC repair, drywall repair,” Barnhill said. “[We] see what they have an aptitude for. If you’re willing to pull yourself up by your bootstraps, we’ll give you the boots.”